If you’ve been wanting to learn how to decorate and refresh your rental condo, read this post. 

When we live in a particular space that we are simply just making do with, it robs us of the joy of actually being able to feel happy and content with our homes. 

But sometimes, it takes an outsider to tell us what steps to take. Because we live in our own box, it’s hard for us to see more objectively.

This is what I have hoped my online design consults would provide: To give my clients specific and obvious steps that they hadn’t previously considered.

You don’t always need to gut your space or sell all your stuff all the time. All you need is a few quick changes to really refresh and uplift your space.

Just a few decorating tips can and will make your space work for your needs and preferences.

Below I share with you some quick ideas to refresh your rental condo or apartment.

decorating ideas for rental condo or apartment

Online design consult on a two-bedroom rental condo

Some weeks back, I had an online design consult with Elise, a twenty-something single mom who lived in a rental condo unit with her daughter.

She had been living in this home for quite some time, and was okay with the size of her two-bedroom unit with its spacious balcony.

However, there was just some thing about the apartment that didn’t sit well with her. Or, some things, rather.

Her main complaints about it included:

  • It felt small, because the furniture wasn’t really laid out correctly.
  • The furniture that came with the unit were bulky and definitely not her style.
  • She would often move furniture around because she needed space to exercise in.
  • The space doesn’t feel hers at all, especially because they are using furniture that does not belong to them.
  • She didn’t know of any decorating ideas to spruce up her home.

Do those sound familiar? I certainly felt the same way when I myself was renting a furnished condo unit back in the day. 

You struggle to fix it up because the furniture doesn’t really align with your personality and style. And from that dilemma, all other kinds of issues sprout up.

rental condo with ethnic decor
This is what the condo unit looked like when Elise and her daughter moved in. The unit was styled in a kind of ethnic and Filipiniana style that didn’t really speak to her.

You can’t decorate the shelf, because the shelf itself feels wrong and bulky.

You don’t feel happy at mealtimes because the dining table and chairs just seem too clunky and off.

You struggle to move things around when you need space, because there’s just no right way for you to arrange the furniture. You tried, but nothing works.

Quick solutions to refresh and decorate a rental condo

I’m here to tell you that there is always a solution to any problem, a decorating idea for every home dilemma.

Again, sometimes it takes an outsider to look at your dilemmas from a different perspective.

rough sketch of layout of rental apartment
This was how the furniture was laid out when Elise and I did our consult. Pardon the very rough sketch; I just drew this up from memory!

During our consult, Elise told me she didn’t want to spend so much in replacing the furniture pieces that came with the apartment.

We considered having her landlord take them away, but this wasn’t something she was keen on doing, because, well, she didn’t want to have to deal with him (I know the feeling 😂).

And because we did the consult right in the middle of quarantine restrictions, shopping and renovating were out of the question.

After a few minutes of considering our options, I laid out these steps for her home.

1. Think of the main activities you’ll need to do in your space.

Elise wanted to exercise, and she needed room for it. She was always pushing coffee tables and chairs around, just to give herself some space.

So we knew we needed to create a dedicated space for her to exercise in.

old layout of rental condo unit
This picture doesn’t really capture her layout, but you can see the dining set from behind the armchair, much closer to the bedrooms than the kitchen.

She and her kid also watched TV together, but the pathway often blocked the view (a problem she didn’t really mind, but that didn’t sit well with me as a designer LOL). 

Also, when they were watching TV, they were in full view of the kitchen—not exactly a great view, considering the kitchen is a house’s busiest space.

So I knew the TV needed to be moved to a place where a person walking by wouldn’t block the view of whoever was watching, and preferably without view of the mess in the kitchen.

Lastly, the dining set was also located nearer the bedrooms. It didn’t make sense that it was so far from the kitchen—even if it was just a short distance. 

So we knew we needed to place the dining set nearer the kitchen. Because those two areas must always go together, right?

3. Rearrange your furniture, keeping your space’s functions top of mind.

Any home, condo, apartment, or room won’t make you happy unless it is serving its primary functions well. 

Let’s recall the way Elise’s living and dining areas were laid out at the start of the consult:

rough sketch of layout of rental condo apartment

I quickly sketched something for Elise to follow, which I thought was a better way for her to position her furniture.

rough sketch of rental condo furniture layout
This is the actual sketch I made during our online consult.

First off, I wanted to put her dining set nearer the kitchen.

Next, I wanted to give them a dedicated TV space, so they won’t need to move back the coffee table, and not have to see the kitchen while watching. 

The big cubby shelf that was near her daughter’s bedroom was moved closer to the kitchen too, as it was a storage piece for most of the stuff they use while on the dining table.

The entire stretch of pathway from the entryway to the bedrooms is now Elise’s exercise space. I know it’s also the walkway leading to the different rooms in the condo unit, but given it was such a small space, it was the biggest area where Elise could comfortably do her HIIT workouts, or even just walk or jog indoors.

During our consult, Elise said she would see if she could get someone to help her to move the large pieces of furniture. But she messaged me later that day with this picture:

new layout of rented condo or apartment

She had done everything all by herself. What a rock, this woman! 💪💪💪

3. Create a focal point.

One way to make your home or apartment feel less cluttered (apart from decluttering, of course) is to designate one spot where your eye immediately goes upon entering it.

This trick helps one focus on only one space, instead of having your eye look at different points of emphasis.

In Elise’s case, I felt that the natural focal point would be the area where her living room now stands. In a small but rectangular room, one’s vision naturally goes to the other end.

So when she moved the TV there, I told her she could put wall decor above it—artwork, a shelf of plants, or perhaps, a wall-hanging piece made up of macrame. 

And that’s exactly what she did:

focal point in condo living room
While the space still seems tight, it better suited the way Elise and her daughter often used it.

4. If you’ve already decluttered and your space still seems disorganized, try to hide the mess behind a solid piece of fabric.

Check out the TV bench above. Prior to our consult, the TV bench was placed next to the kitchen, without any fabric over it.

One could clearly see all the clutter on its shelves. Not good.

While Elise did declutter some of their belongings, we knew that leaving the bench as is would still keep the space from looking tidy (perils of open shelving).

So she draped a plaid fabric over it to keep her and her daughter’s things away from prying eyes. Easy peasy.

I love how the fabric also repeats the square patterns on the capiz lamp above it.

Another item that Elise covered up was the cubby bookshelf that came with the unit. It was such a massive, messy piece that Elise realized was a point of contention for her. She just didn’t know how to fix it.

So I said, if it’s something you need to live with, then cover it up with a fabric that more or less follows your intended color palette for the space.

covered up cubby in condo dining area

Now you must remember that it can’t be just any fabric. It can’t just be a blanket that was nearest you, or a table cloth that you hardly use. 

You have to pick your fabric with a little bit more intention, because putting just any fabric there just defeats the purpose of making your space look and feel nice.

(So no, put that ratty old towel back in the cabinet…or better yet, cut it up and use it as a dish rag.)

Sorry if that sounded harsh, but someone’s gotta say it. 😜

There’s just no arguing that decluttering and letting go of things that you don’t really need anymore is still the best way to make your space feel less messy. But covering up the everyday things is a quick and inexpensive way of creating some semblance of tidiness in your room.

This is also great if your belongings don’t really match (like your containers aren’t all the same size, material, or color).

5. Layer on pieces that reflect your personality and style.

Despite having such burdensome responsibilities on her shoulder, Elise seemed like an easy-going, free spirit. And I agreed that she would do well in applying her boho-chic aesthetic into her condo.

Little by little, Elise layered her condo rental’s furniture with pieces that suited this aesthetic.

The macrame wall art.

The boho-print textiles. 

boho-print textile in condo sofa

Plants. Texture. Her daughter’s art. Their portraits.

So from this ethnic-confused condo rental:

rental condo with ethnic decor

Elise and her daughter now have this beautiful, boho-chic home that better suits their lifestyle and desires.

new boho-chic condo with sparkly filter

Happy mom, happy life

I’m thrilled to report that Elise is much much happier in her space. 

She didn’t have to renovate. 

She didn’t have to bug her landlord about taking away his furniture.

She only bought items that she felt were more attuned to her style.

Camyl was so friendly and professional at the same time. You can tell that she was really present during our call because she started to sketch her ideas immediately and gave me practical advice as well! Right after our call I followed her advice and rearranged my space. It’s finally a step closer to my dream unit!

Elise, Quezon City
5 ways to decorate and refresh your rental condo or apartment

Need help in refreshing and planning your rental condo?

Go ahead and book me for an online design consult. For one hour, we discuss all your space dilemmas. We’ll also explore different solutions that could work with your preferences and lifestyle.

I’m also offering a Space-Planning eDesign service, where I help you map out new and existing furniture pieces you may need following your room’s existing dimensions. You may download our Gal at Home eDesign Experience brochure using the form below to know more about our eDesign services.